Why I don't think Hibs should get the Lady Boys of Bangkok to do a show before kick-off – Vladimir McTavish

I am writing this column with one hand tied behind my back.

Saturday, 31st July 2021, 4:55 am
What is the point of an opening ceremony at the Olympic Games, wonders Vladimir McTavish (Picture: Dylan Martinez/Pool/Getty Images)

I like these pieces to reflect the week’s news. The only problem is that when I turn on the TV to watch the BBC, there is no news. Only the Olympic Games.

I eventually ended up searching for the BBC News-24 channel, which is becoming increasingly difficult to find on Freeview. I eventually located it on Channel 231.

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what the main news was on the BBC News Channel? Yes, it was the Tokyo Olympics, followed by a report on a typhoon about to hit the coast of Japan, which could seriously affect the surfing competition at the Olympics, followed by an in-depth analysis on how Team GB were faring in 2021.

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Actual news? Barely none.

There was a brief footnote about Joe Biden announcing that he was going to withdraw US troops from Iraq, which is obviously of less interest than how some person you’ve never heard of is faring in the 50-metres small-bore rifle event, or an assessment of British medal hopes in the women’s archery or highlights from the dressage at the Three-Day Event.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Olympics fan. I love watching the athletics, the tennis, the swimming, the rugby sevens. But can a horse tap-dancing truly be classed as sport? Surely the end of a 20-year conflict is slightly more newsworthy than people competing in obscure leisure activities, where the spectators could probably all fit into a taxi.

This year, of course, there are no spectators, an entirely sensible move given Japan’s high Covid figures. I do understand, however, that it was important from the athletes' point of view that the games went ahead. These people have made great sacrifices and trained for five years to compete against one another. It would be better with a crowd, but without fans it is still a proper competition.

The same cannot be said of the opening ceremony. What is the point of holding an opening ceremony in an empty stadium? On second thoughts, what is the point of the opening ceremony at all?

London 2012 and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games were entertaining because neither took themselves seriously, but that still could not hide the impression that these ceremonies are irrelevant to the main events. Why make the starting event of a global athletics competition with a display of synchronised dancing from local school children? Do they appeal to the same fan base?

Would Hibs sell more season tickets, if they had the Lady Boys of Bangkok doing a turn on the Easter Road pitch before kick-off? Would Hearts fans be more inclined to turn up at Tynecastle if they thought they were getting a couple of numbers from that Welsh tenor off the Go Compare advert?

When people arrive at my venue next weekend to see my Fringe show, I know they have come to see me doing stand-up comedy. Full stop. I wouldn’t get any more bums on seats if I crowbarred in a table tennis match beforehand.

As for the closing ceremony? Don’t even get me started.

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